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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A guide to staying hydrated in Cuba

Guarapo- fresh squeezed sugar cane - is made for a nearby guaraperia where a Hemingway-inspired drink that also uses fresh squeezed pineapple is served. 

It's important to stay hydrated in tropical Cuba and the natives do it in style, notably with mojitos and daiquiris, good local beer and guarapo. The latter is freshly squeezed sugarcane juice sold at roadside guaraperias, often served with rum but quite thirst-quenching, if sweet, served straight up..

I first saw it being squeezed at a stand near Hemingway's Vinca Vigia, the home he bought with his first royalty check from "For Whom the Bell Tolls." The author, who loved Cuba and lived there 20 years, has achieved cult status among Cubans and fans from all over the world make Hemingway pilgrimages there.

I'll have more about our visit to that 20-acre hilltop estate soon.

Havana Club is the rum used in almost every drink. The rum and coke called the Cuba Libre  is probably the simplest drink though I didn't see any Coca Cola (or any other brand name) during my visit to  Cuba.

People seem perfectly content using TuCola, a knock-off of sorts.

El Floridita, one of the downtown Havana bars regularly frequented by Hemingway, today carries his signature on its marquee and inside a lifesized size bronze statue of the author leans with an elbow on the bar.

Hemingway wrote about the daiquiris served at El Floridita and today they still are sold there but are said to be overpriced.

The sugarcane being squeezed below Vinca Vigia was near a sign boasting that Hemingway tasted his first pineapple there and a pineapple drink is made and sold in his honor.

This is the pineapple juice, lemon juice,  sugar cane juice and rum drink offered near Hemingway's Cuban home. Note the sugar cane stalk, pineapple slice and lime used as a garnish.

Bartenders using  Cuban rum  to top off a multiple variety of drinks  often look to the imbiber to "say when"

One of the best beers I drank in Cuba was Bucaneros, a heavy bodied lager with good flavor. Cristal, which is more commonly available, is a lighter beer.

 I'd heard that Hatuey was a good beer, but I couldn't find it.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is great stuff. Janet, you really capture the flavor of Cuba, in all senses of the word. Brilliant work!!

July 3, 2014 at 1:47 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to love a travel article that covers all the best Cuban bars have to offer. Wonder if the Cubans revere Hemmingway or just the visitors.

July 28, 2014 at 1:03 PM 
Blogger Janet Podolak said...

Hemingway is an icon to Cubans who are required to study him in high school. In fact I'm now rereading him because I understand Cubans consier his philosphy akin to the socialism they practice. I never got that from Hemingway but I' beginning to work on part 3 in the series which is about his presence in Cuba, where he lived on an off for 20 years. of my series is about Hemingway's place in Cuba

July 28, 2014 at 1:23 PM 

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